Recently, I've been pushing myself pretty hard. I've given myself a couple of really tight deadlines in order to kick things into high gear. I needed it. I also need deadlines. It fuels my motivation, and helps me focus. Of course you know when you have a heavy workload, something will come along and throw a wrench in the works, backing everything up. It's bound to happen. So you end up pushing yourself even more to catch up. On top of that is the feeling that despite everything you're doing, you're not doing enough.
We're always pushing ourselves to do more, to work faster and harder, feeling insecure and inadequate at times compared to others. We all have our own pace, yet we berate ourselves for it. We keep going, ignoring the signs until it's too late, and we fall ill. I know I'm certainly guilty of putting work before my health, but it's something I started changing over the last year.
I work in front of the computer twelve to fourteen hours a day, Monday to Friday--depending what I'm working on. I used to work weekends, too. At the time, I used to get more colds, flues, headaches, stomach upsets, aches and pains. I decided I needed to learn to take a step back, for my own well-being.
Unless it's dire, I take weekends off. I leave the house, go to the movies, shop, and forget about work. If I don't have a deadline looming, I allow myself some days where my workload is light and finish up a little earlier. I bought a treadmill and an elliptical machine which I actually use (as apposed to the countless other exercise equipment I've purchased over the years that ended up as expensive clotheshorses).
I decided to give myself permission to take breaks, to take time away from my desk. I know when I do, whether it's a day, a week, a month, everything will still be there when I get back, and I'll feel better for it.
It's crazy that we have to set our minds to taking time off, but it's necessary, because if you're not careful, burnout will sneak up on you like the baby lizard that crawls through your window and appears at your side staring at you. I'm not kidding. Here he is. I swear they pop out of nowhere. He's also missing a bit of his tail. Probably overworked himself. See what happens when you overexert yourself? You lose your tail?!
Anyway, what I'm saying is: it's okay to take time off.
If you're like me, when you lay down to go to sleep, you're still mulling over everything you need to do in your head. It takes me ages to fall asleep sometimes because my brain just won't shut up. Then I remember to tell myself, "You can think about that tomorrow." It's okay to stop, watch a movie, chill out with your favorite drink, take a nap, read, and just relax. You won't get left behind, and you'll feel more refreshed.
Do you ever feel like you can't step away? What do you do to relieve some of the day-to-day pressure?